Philip Guston: Modern Masters


The story of Philip Guston’s life is, in many ways, a chronicle of the ideas and events that transformed American painting in this century. Having been a muralist in the 1930s, by the 1940s Guston had turned away from public art to explore a more private visions.

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The story of Philip Guston’s life is, in many ways, a chronicle of the ideas and events that transformed American painting in this century. Having been a muralist in the 1930s, by the 1940s Guston had turned away from public art to explore a more private visions.

These haunting tableaux gave way in the 1950s to shimmering abstractions that represent one of the most poetic contributions to Abstract Expressionism. In the last and most important decade of his life, Guston’s work changed yet again, as he invented a set of characters to enact monstrously comic apocalyptic fantasies. That Guston was a fearless innovator who rejected easy answers to questions about both painting and life, is made clear by Roberto Storr’s perceptive and sympathetic text.